EU Backs Off Climate-Change Rules

Plagued with economic sluggishness, the European Union has taken a step forward to easing many of its “ambitious” environmental regulations. Pointing to the negative impact rising energy costs have on already-hurting national economies, the body proposed lifting its 2020 goals for individual countries and to focus on goals for the continent for 2030.

Amid complaints from environmentalists, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive wing, framed the proposed changes as a new “marriage between industry and climate action,” according to the New York Times. Activists have countered that the rules hold individual countries less accountable and make it harder for the EU to enforce regulations.

Some European countries are already starting to move towards expanding their energy sources. For example, in Britain last month, the British government took steps towards allowing fracking within the country. Part of the EU’s proposal includes drawing back on fracking regulations, as well as allowing for other “emerging technologies.”

By 2030, the Washington Times reports, the EU aims to have 27 percent of its energy consumption from renewable energy as well as a 40 percent cut in carbon emissions under the new regulations. Some European officials hope to return to some of the union’s previous goals, but for the time being Connie Hedegaard, the commissioner for climate action, said the changes are an effort “to do something that is achievable, that is doable and practical for 28 governments to back.”

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